IRG 1-3b – Building Interdisciplinary Instiutions

(Cyrus Mody)


This research stream focuses on identifying the people and forces behind the development of interdisciplinary research institutions from the mid-1960s to the end of the 20th century. One research project examines new interdisciplinary ventures in which Stanford electrical engineers participated between 1965 and 1995. This period runs from the turmoil of the Vietnam era to the emergence of the entrepreneurial, networked university of the post-Cold War period. All along, interdisciplinarity was seen as an important mode of research, though what the term "interdisciplinarity" meant and what problems it was thought to solve varied.


A second project focuses on new forms of microelectronics promoted by a densely interconnected network of researchers at IBM, Bell Labs, MIT, and Cornell between 1970 and 1990. Building computer systems based on novel concepts such as the Josephson junction, and making the fabrication of microelectronics more “scientific” both required intensive forms of interdisciplinarity.